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Farm Fresh

December 10, 2007


Nothing like December weather folks. Cruising around town with the sun roof open and your windows down, elbow out the window, the strains of “Frosty the Snowman” wafting from the cars around you. Can’t beat it. It’s slow birding though, especially with constant word of the great birds my dad is getting back in Missouri, but his weather stinks. Birdy or balmy? If those are my options right now, then with CBCs around the corner, I’ll take the birds. I can live with the cold (Though I say this as my friends and family in my hometown in Missouri prep for a nasty system). In my unseasonable heat, however, I headed out this morning to the old standby, Mason Farm.

It was slow, very slow. I walked the path I normally take and with the exception of Eastern Towhees making a very strange and initially confusing zzzeeeoooeeet call, it was even less than status quo. When I walked into the forest, however, I heard a noise that for all the world sounded like a construction crew framing a house in a distant subdivision. It turned out to be a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers working on a half dead tree. As I enjoyed a look at a bird I never seem to see well, I heard the chattering of the resident family of Red-headed Woodpeckers, followed by their grand entrance. A Northern Flicker called and flew by, then a single Red-bellied Woodpecker snuck up the tree the Pileated was busy excavating, followed almost immediately by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker doing its best chickadee impression hanging on the end of a twig, and the peek of a Downy Woodpecker. I sometimes try, on slow days like this one, to shoot for “slams”, or collections of all the occurring species of a family. The woodpecker slam is the one I’m usually closest to achieving on a regular basis, as they’re all conspicuous residents of the North Carolina woods. Here I was though, about to hit the woodpecker slam in one 50m square area. Unprecedented!

As is usually the case, the Hairy Woodpecker fouled me up. It’s surprisingly tough in this area for whatever reason. I’ve had them at Mason Farm on a couple occasions so I know they’re there, but once again, with all the pressure on me, they were nigh on invisible. The rest of the morning was uneventful, a particularly nice male Eastern Bluebird shared a tree with a small group of Field Sparrows, pausing long enough for me to snap a photo. The only other sighting of note was a trio of enormous Yellow-bellied Sliders crossing from one pond to another as I left Mason Farm. I pulled over to facilitate their crossing, my camera had run low on batteries so no picture, natch. But I didn’t think anything of them until I got back into my car, finally realizing that I had just assisted three adult turtles with a road crossing in the middle of December. It’s been that kind of year here in North Carolina though.

One Comment
  1. Greg permalink
    December 10, 2007 8:43 am

    Ice storm missed us for the most part. It stayed north of I-44 again. Yahoo! Bad thing is that Northern Shrike is in icy area, and no one has relocated it, despite efforts on Sunday.

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